CASPER, Wyoming (Wyoming News Now) – High school football season is just around the corner, and Kelly Walsh football kicks off its season on August 27 at Cheyenne South. The Trojans are coming off a semi-final of last season’s 4A State Playoffs.
David Graf hosted Kelly Walsh head coach Aaron Makelky at the Wyoming News Now studio to talk about what he learned during his three years as Kelly Walsh head coach, his love of football and Trojans to watch out for this season.
This interview has been edited for more content and clarity.
DG: Thank you, Coach Makelky, for taking a little time here, for coming to the studio and for agreeing to speak to me. I really appreciate this. I just want to know that you are heading into your third season. What are some of the things you learned as a head coach at Kelly Walsh?
AM: I appreciate you having me, David. I don’t know how long you have to listen to this list of things I’ve learned, but there is a lot. One of the things I learned for sure was the importance of being off-season and being organized outside of the August-November schedule. Whether it’s the arrival and the transition, or all the things that happened in the last year that kept us from getting the kids into groups and doing camps and normal things. It’s a big deal, and I think one is how much our kids, our school, and our community want to be better and want to raise the standards of what Kelly Walsh football is. So I think those are probably the first two, but the list goes on.
DG: I know this is your third season as Kelly Walsh’s head coach, but you’ve been coaching football for a while now. What do you love so much about football?
AM: I think the most important thing is that I grew up around her. My dad was a head coach in small town Montana, and I thought and thought about that a lot. I think one of the most important is that I saw how much fun and fulfillment he found in continuing to train young men and teach life lessons and succeed on and on. outside the field. I think the challenge. I’m a history teacher, so I’m one of those nerdy guys who read a lot, so I think there’s a lot of strategic and tactical exchanges. If they do this, how do we do that? And how do you prepare our children for the unknown? A huge at Kelly Walsh is just the occasion. I think our technical staff is not me, it’s all of us. We just have the mentality that we are builders. We did not come to maintain something. We’ve come to build something and do something new and add to what’s already there, and highlight what’s good that’s there, but bring in other things. And so I just think the challenge is what gets you out of bed every day and makes it a thrilling job.
DG: You mentioned the development of these young men, and a common theme when you talk to seniors graduating from Kelly Walsh last year is that they all said, “Coach Makelky, he really invested in me not only. as a football player, but as a human. being.’ Why is it so important for you to make this kind of commitment to these children?
AM: Well, at the end of the day, they’re going to graduate and go on and do other things, and these guys aren’t going to put on football uniforms with us. It’s a pretty empty thing if all you did was win soccer games. Now, of course, that’s what we’re going to be judged on, and that’s a huge measure of our success, and it’s an important measure, but it’s not the only one. Working with them during a pandemic, many of us have probably had this with coworkers or coworkers, or children, you have a different relationship with these children because the adversity that they had to overcome just to be presenting and having a season was different from anyone I ever think. But this class was special in that they were like, ‘Hey, we want to be leaders. We want to be successful. Tell us what to do and we will. We will miss it. These guys are awesome so hopefully they take those lessons with them in college, their jobs, their military careers, business school, whatever they do.
DG: Last year you highlighted QB Trenton Walker like a Trojan horse to watch out for. Which kid on this year’s team people should be paying attention to?
AM: There is a list. The one other people are going to tell you is Cam Burkett, and the physical tools he has at his disposal are remarkable. I have never coached or coached against a kid who has the combination of size, speed, athleticism, ball skills, football IQ and most importantly is Cam’s selflessness. I’m going to give you another name that I think is going to really turn heads and people at the end of the season will be like, “I didn’t know who this guy was.” But they will, and that’s Chase Ortberg. He’s also going to be a senior. He is tall, tall, slim and athletic. He’s a track athlete, a hurdler. He has a skill set that we’ve seen this summer and in some camps. We did lineman competitions and stuff in his area of position that he dominated. He’s a guy I think people need to pay attention to besides some of the more obvious ones like Cam Burkett.
DG: You didn’t beat Natrona County in your first two years at Casper. What would a win against the Mustangs mean for you and the Kelly Walsh fans?
AM: It might be kind of a roundabout answer, but on the sequence of things we’re focusing on, that’s pretty far down the list. The way we approach it, David, is that until we get organized, get into position, line up, and execute our basic plays, we don’t think about any opponents. And then until it’s game week, like Cheyenne South, we’re not going to worry about them until this game week. But I’m not naive, and I know it’s bigger. It’s more personal. There are family ties, there are buddies that you went to college with, and guys who are dating your gf now, and whatever all those other things you get in an east-to-west rivalry. from the same city. It would be huge, and I have no idea what it will look like. There are a few games in the regular season, and it’s their home, so we’ll see if they fly helicopters during that time and do whatever’s cool. There’s a lot of glitz when you play there, and it’s a cool place, but we’ll see. This is something we’re going to worry about for Week 4, because if we don’t do all of this now, we’re not just going to magically show up and beat a great dominant schedule, and a schedule that has historically been better than us lately. . So we have to focus on ourselves for a while and then we will get there.
DG: Thank you very much for taking the time to come, and good luck for this season.
AM: Thanks for having me, David.
Copyright 2021 Wyoming News Now. All rights reserved.